Culture is meant to be tasted. That’s why I try to eat local whenever I’m in a new country. Unfortunately, that’s something I failed to do during my first visit to Guam. Because of schedule issues, we weren’t able to drop by the Chamorro village for a taste of the local cuisine. Of course, that doesn’t translate to a food trip fail. There was still much eating to be had, with a few stops at old favorites. (Why hello there, Taco Bell & Little Caesars!)
During our first evening on the island, we went out for dinner with some family friends. They took us to a family restaurant called Jamaican Grill. It seems to be a popular place, seeing how packed it was. We had to wait a bit even though our hosts made reservations. While it’s a Jamaican restaurant, I’m betting that it has been adjusted to suit local palates as evidenced by the presence of Chamorro red rice on their menu and finadene, a soy and lemon based dipping sauce, on the tables. Our family platter had chicken and ribs, their house salad, and both Jamaican rice and Chamorro rice.
Both rice dishes were interesting; the Jamaican rice had nuances of coconut milk, while the Chamorro red rice, colored with annato seeds, had a smoky flavor. The meats were well-seasoned and great for pairing with the rice, though the ribs could’ve been more tender. There are other interesting dishes on the menu, like jerk burgers and barbecues but our stomach capacity was limited and we only had so much time on the island.
As you go around touring the island, one thing you’ll notice is the sheer number of Japanese tourists. From the malls to the beaches to public transport, its nihonjin everywhere. Apparently, Guam is like Japan’s Hawaii. Naturally, there are a large number of Japanese restaurants there. One of places we visited was Benii, a Japanese restaurant with a rotary sushi bar set up.
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it until after we were seated at one of the normal tables and have finished ordering. I actually regret not sitting by the revolving conveyors—eating from those is always a fun experience. Thankfully, the food was good so I easily forgot my regrets and just dove into my food with gusto.
Being a sushi bar, I figured sashimi or sushi would be a good thing to order. I settled for a negitoro donburi, a bowl of sushi rice topped with chopped tuna and green onions. A friend once told me that minced tuna is more flavorful than normal tuna sashimi because it’s taken from the areas near the fish bones. True enough, it was flavorful with a velvety texture. The onions added a sharp bite that ensured that the dish never got monotonous. Despite my preference for chirashizushi, Benii’s negitoro, washed down with a bit of umeshu, has me convinced that it’s just as flavorful a dish.
Ideally, my negitoro would’ve been the highlight of my evening. Unfortunately, being the stupid cow I am, I actually left my camera at Benii. Thankfully, they retrieved and kept it, so they were immediately able to reassure us when we called to inquire. I was amazed. In some other countries, it would’ve been bye-bye camera.
Find more Guam dining options on the second part of this post.